Reframing failures as opportunities to learn

In a psychologically safe workplace, reporting problems, accidents and errors is appreciated and can be used to learn and improve.
Open / Close All Content
A psychologically safe workplace enables people to feel safe to report errors, mistakes, accidents or potential problems affecting work. The sooner these are known, the quicker they can be acted on, fixed or impact minimised. 

What we commonly see as simply ‘failures’ and mistakes offer us opportunities to see where we could:
  • Improve processes
  • Put in better training 
  • Spot changes in the environment we need to respond to
  • Drop a project that is not working, before we invest too much.
We genuinely want things to succeed, so when things don’t go well, we might feel reluctant to highlight this and focus on this. We also don’t want to hide ‘failures’.  
Promote being pro-learning. Reward when mistakes are acknowledged, reported and learnings gained. Avoid blaming and shaming. Encourage thinking about how we can move forward with more knowledge.

Keep in mind: 

  • We are all human and can make mistakes. We can’t know everything 
  • We can’t control everything 
  • We can’t predict the future
  • Increases in complexity and interdependence in workplaces means more ‘moving parts’ that can go wrong.

How effective teams view ‘failure’

Effective teams see ‘failures’ as a natural part of the learning and development process. They know that you very rarely get things perfect on the first attempt. If people are encouraged to share their experiences so everyone can learn, you’ll see more open discussion, faster learning, fewer repeated problems and innovative solutions.
Mental Health Foundation
Mental Health Foundation